TurkeyNWrestling: 2A-District 3

Team synopsis: The theme for the 2016-17 2A-District 3 season is all about movement.

With three District 3 teams finishing in the top 10 at regions (and a fourth just off the pace at 14th), there was solid talent in this district. A good chunk of it graduated, however, with some of it moving within the district and some more of it moving out of district.

So, a season that saw Middleburg pick off both district and (in an absolute war) region titles last year gives way to one that has something old and something new. Orange Park, despite taking some movement hits, probably has enough to return to the top of the heap.

But, if they don’t, I would expect the reason would be the Raiders’ other Clay County in-district rival, Ridgeview, which picked up three Orange Park transfers (two of them region champs) and has a solid freshman class joining with the returning Panthers.

Middleburg should be in contention for the third spot, but could get challenges from Duval County rivals Englewood and Terry Parker for those middle-of-the pack positions.

The other movement theme is around coaches. Although a couple of them had prior head-coaching experience before their current posts, all but recently-returned Jaylen Lee at Ed White and Terry Parker’s John Dunn are in their first or second years as HCs with their current teams.

Projected finish: 1. Orange Park. 2. Ridgeview. 3. Middleburg. 4. Englewood. 5. Terry Parker. 6. Ed White. 7. Stanton.

Ed White (Jacksonville)
Coach: Jaylen Lee, 4th year.
2015-16: Unknown in duals. 5th at Westside Kiwanis Invitational, 6th at Corey Hill Memorial, 4th at Gateway Conference, 4th at Westside Classic, T-43rd at girls’ state meet.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 3rd at district, 4th at region, 21st at states. 2015 — 4th at district, 9th at region, T-49th at states. 2014 — 5th at district, 16th at region, T-62nd at states.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Darrell Lampkin (senior, 132, district 3rd, 1 match from states); Jazmyn Villalona (senior, 138, did not compete in post-season); Vanquez Gooch (junior, 170, 1 match from regions); Robert Carley (junior, 182, district 4th).
Key losses (to graduation): Darien Tucker (138, district champ, region 4th); Juwan Lee (145, district champ, region 4th); Sergio Jordan (160, district champ, region 3rd); Atyrus McDonald (195, district champ, region runnerup, 1 match from state podium); Avery Wilds (220, district runnerup, region 4th); Kelton Johnson (285, district champ, region runnerup, state 3rd).
Program strengths: Coaching staff is strong and has been well-invested in group success. Schedule has challenged the Commanders. We saw off-season participation in larger events (Disney) for the first time since I started tracking those.
Program needs: Graduation losses are, in a word, enormous. Numbers were an issue already — probably kept the Commanders from a Gateway or district title in 2016 — and there are not a lot of returners, whether they wrestled post-season or not.
Matmen’s take: It’s a whole new world for the Commanders to create this year, and newness could mean more than a few growing pains to suffer through.

Englewood (Jacksonville)
Coach: Matthew Miller, 1st year as HC.
2015-16: 16-6 in duals. 6th at Arlington Optimist Invitational, 8th at Gateway Conference, 23rd at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 5th at district, 21st at region. 2015 — 7th at district, 24th at region. 2014 — 7th at district, 22nd at region.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Tyler Crawford (junior, 12-22 at 106, district 4th); Leo Galeas (junior, 10-10 at 120, did not compete in post-season); Tanner Kern (senior, 17-14 at 126, did not compete in post-season); Marcus Elam (junior, 19-18 at 145, district 4th); Tavian Whitehead (senior, 31-6 at 152, district champ, 1 match from states); Zykeim Sermons (sophomore, 29-9 at 160, district 3rd, 1 match from states); Michel Augustin (senior, 27-10 at 170, district 3rd, 1 match from states); Chase Hamilton (senior, 12-7 at 182, district 3rd); Brandon King (junior, 14-6 at 195, did not compete in post-season).
Key losses (to graduation except as noted): Tymofiy Hyorchuck (sophomore, 6-10 at 132, did not compete in post-season; transferred to Stanton); Johnathan Galeas (14-16 at 132/138, did not compete in post-season); Dustin Williams (11-8 at 138, district 4th); Daishon Brown (12-3 at 170/182, did not compete in post-season); Justin Griffis (10-7 at 182, did not compete in post-season); Emrah Kalabic (16-17 at 195, district 4th); Brandon Hudson (21-11 at 285, district runnerup).
Program strengths: Program continues to bring in stronger talent levels each year, with one or two new recruits coming in that aren’t freshmen, and as a result expectations continue to improve each year. Schedule is slowly getting stronger, which is also a plus. Coaching staff committed to longer-term success.
Program needs: Program hasn’t had a state qualifier in four seasons at least and has had trouble getting into the top 20 in the region team race. Numbers in-season and mat-time off-season continue to be struggles the Rams are attempting to overcome.
Matmen’s take: It wouldn’t surprise me if the Rams finish closer to the top of the district; belief they can compete is key to that possibility.

Middleburg
Coach: Richie Dusinberre, 1st year as HC.
2015-16: 16-9 in duals. 11th at Westside Kiwanis Invitational, 4th at Wakulla Challenge, 9th at Flagler Rotary, 10th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 1st at district, 1st at region, T-22nd at states. 2015 — 2nd at district, 2nd at region, T-17th at states. 2014 — 2nd at district, 14th at region, T-51st at states.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Austin Benton (junior, 14-15 at 120, district 3rd); Caleb King (junior, 15-25 at 126/132, did not compete in post-season); Storm Mercado (sophomore, 1-11 at 132, district 4th); Cody Eastwood (senior, 27-21 at 152, district runnerup); Robbie Riesenbeck (junior, 10-16 at 160, 1 match from regions); Bryan Heflin (junior, 28-18 at 182, district runnerup, 1 match from states).
Key addition: David Thompson (senior, 24-13 at 182, 3A-District 1 4th; transferred back to Middleburg from Oakleaf).
Key losses (to graduation except as noted): Robert Sheridan (29-15 at 106, district champ, 1 match from states); Briar Jackson (sophomore, 37-17 at 113, district champ, region 3rd; transferred to Fleming Island); Dylan Rossetti (30-13 at 126, district champ, region 4th, 1 match from state podium); Jonathan Shoen (48-4 at 170, district champ, region champ, state runnerup); Kurt Jackson (41-14 at 195, district runnerup, region 4th; transferred to Clay); Ammon Meeks (30-20 at 220, district champ, region 3rd).
Program strengths: Slow & steady push up the ranks led to both district and region titles last year for the Broncos. Part of a solid county tradition for the sport. Schedule has had a good mix of events for Middleburg kids to flourish.
Program needs: Significant program exits, between graduations and transfers…and new head coach (if only new to the title) in place this coming year. Hopefully the recent success will help keep numbers in place, but even then numbers do need to improve.
Matmen’s take: I’m expecting same Bronco intensity that powered to district & region titles a year ago, but losses from that team were substantial.

Orange Park
Coach: Justin Daniels, 2nd year.
2015-16: 20-11 in duals. 2nd at Arlington Optimist Invitational, 9th at Westside Kiwanis Invitational, 3rd at Trojan Invitational, 11th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 2nd at district, 8th at region, T-27th at states. 2015 — 1st at district, 3rd at region, 26th at states. 2014 — 1st at district, 2nd at region, 12th at states.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Dean Ganci (sophomore, 15-21 at 106, district runnerup); Frank Sawyer (junior, 23-9 at 113, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Dashner St. Vilus (senior, 30-17 at 138, district 3rd); Zach McWhite (junior, 2-13 at 152, did not compete in post-season); Nartorian Lee (senior, 49-7 at 160, district champ, region runnerup, 1 match from state podium); Reed Danielson (junior, 19-12 at 170, district 4th); Ben Elliot (sophomore, 20-17 at 195, district 3rd); Tyler Dehart (senior, 23-13 at 220, did not compete in post-season); Deon Williams (senior, 2-13 at 285, district 4th).
Key losses (to graduation except as noted): Marcus Reid (31-3 at 120, district champ, region 3rd, state 3rd; transferred to Ridgeview); Victor Perez (23-5 at 120/126, did not compete in post-season); Jeremiah Watson (26-9 at 126, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Joseph Moss (junior, 9-7 at 126, did not compete in post-season; transferred to Ridgeview); Saeid Ejmali (39-9 at 132, district champ, region champ; transferred to Ridgeview).
Program strengths: Multiple returners were involved in off-season wrestling, which will only help. Excellent schedule has pushed Raiders at the right times. Returning group (which does include a couple more starters that didn’t compete in the post-season) will feel like they have some things to prove, which is always a strong motivator.
Program needs: Transfers of projected starters makes returning to the top more problematic for Orange Park, but there is a significant amount of talent returning as well.
Matmen’s take: Raiders will be fine after the changes, at least this year; depth needs to emerge from the younger wrestlers soon, if not this season.

Ridgeview (Orange Park)
Coach: Bryson Barker, 2nd year.
2015-16: 6-7 in duals. 7th at Westside Kiwanis Invitational, T-4th at Billy Saylor Invitational, 8th at Trojan Invitational, 24th at Clay Rotary.
Other post-season stats: 2016 — 4th at district, 14th at region, T-57th at states. 2015 — 5th at district, 22nd at region, T-67th at states. 2014 — 4th at district, 13th at region, T-26th at states.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Hunter Click (sophomore, 11-20 at 106, district 3rd); Tanner Belden (sophomore, 18-16 at 126, district 3rd); Nick Robinson (senior, 15-18 at 145, district 3rd); John Tiedeman (sophomore, 12-14 at 160, 1 match from regions); Thaddeaus Everett (junior, 5-13 at 182, 1 match from regions); Brandon Wilkerson (senior, 7-17 at 220, district 3rd); Jonathan McDow (senior, 11-15 at 285, 1 match from regions).
Key additions: Marcus Reid (senior, see above for stats); Joseph Moss (junior, see above for stats); Saeid Ejmali (junior, see above for stats). All transferred from Orange Park.
Key losses (to graduation): Justin Trinh (24-13 at 120, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Trevor Belden (22-11 at 132, district runnerup, region runnerup); McKenzie Williams (17-14 at 138, district runnerup); Steven Richardson (4-18 at 152, district 4th); Daryn Tucker Brown (25-13 at 170, district runnerup, region runnerup).
Program strengths: Transfers provide an immediate shot in the arm for Panthers, but they have a sizable influx of numbers besides. Coaching staff includes one of the more successful young middle-school coaches in Clay County.
Program needs: Just needs some team success. Before I started this website, Ridgeview had exceptionally powerful individuals and some very solid kids my first year with the site. Team success, though, was at times tough to find.
Matmen’s take: Transfers inject new life into the Panther program, returners from last year will have to take some steps to match the increased intensity.

Stanton (Jacksonville)
Coach: David Piper, 2nd year.
2015-16: 1-18 in duals. 13th at Arlington Optimist Invitational, 14th at Gateway Conference, 6th at Westside Classic.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 7th at district, T-26th at region. 2015 — 9th at district. 2014 — 8th at district.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Mitchell Mika (junior, 25-13 at 145, district runnerup).
Key addition: Tymofiy Hyorchuck (sophomore, 6-10 at 132, did not compete in post-season; transferred from Englewood).
Key losses: None.
Program strengths: Not a lot of short-handed rooms can go practice with another room, but Mika was able to do that, working against Robert E. Lee kids in-season to keep his skills sharp after losing his teammates to injury. Strong academic environment. I’m hearing about more kids going out.
Program needs: Experienced numbers are in short supply. Even without injury, Stanton would have struggled to field more than five wrestlers during the course of the season. That makes scheduling difficult and makes training just as hard.
Matmen’s take: I’m biased as a Stanton parent (in another sport), but Blue Devil team concept should be improved compared to last year.

Terry Parker (Jacksonville)
Coach: John Dunn, 18th year.
2015-16: 9-23 in duals. 8th at Arlington Optimist Invitational, 11th at Gateway Conference, T-48th at girls’ state meet.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 6th at district, T-23rd at region, T-69th at states. 2015 — 8th at district, T-25th at region. 2014 — 6th at district, 21st at region.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Chris Walker (senior, 28-14 at 113, district 3rd); Reema Sabella (senior, 0-14 at 120, district 4th); Dalton Deckerhoff (senior, 23-13 at 138, 1 match from regions); Jason Reed (junior, 2-14 at 145, 1 match from regions); Boakai Kanneh (junior, 17-17 at 152, district 3rd); Landon Dains (sophomore, 22-18 at 160, district 4th, 1 match from states); Manuel Rodrigues (sophomore, 5-10 at 170, 1 match from regions); Ben Sabella (sophomore, 2-13 at 195, 1 match from regions); Matthew Walls (senior, 17-17 at 285, district 3rd).
Key losses (to graduation): Keaun Watts (11-8 at 170, did not compete in post-season); Aquana McCalop (30-5 at 182, district champ, region 4th).
Program strengths: Stable coaching situation. Wrestlers can count on being at home for three larger tournaments (two dual, one IBT) each season. Program is slowly attracting more kids to come out. Girls’ program is flourishing at Parker.
Program needs: Team travels just before Christmas to Harmony for its dual invitational, but doesn’t travel much otherwise during the regular season. Kids do need more off-season time to make jumps in improvements as well.
Matmen’s take: Braves might have a couple of kids flirt with state again this year, but success might largely be measured through those individuals.

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I covered wrestling for 15 years up north and "retired" in 2011. But as I thought I had in 1992, I couldn't stay away. Started Northeast Florida Matmen in 2013, Northwest Florida Matmen in 2015. New initiative this year is to create a space on my sites where ALL Florida results can be stored, searched, reviewed and used by my readers, with NO COST TO THEM.

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